Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Our New Farm In New Zealand

While we were in New Zealand recently for Mums 60th we visited the property we purchased late last year. Hubby's parents were also able to come travel over for the party and after spending a few days with us they headed off to do some touring on their own.
Since purchasing the 5.5 acres block we have not done anything to it.  We let the grass grow and then had it cut and baled into hay.  We sold it off and made a few bucks which was good but we do not want to just keep doing that.  We are hoping that my mum and dad will be able put some cattle on it to keep the grass down but we have to set up a water supply first.
There were a few things we wanted to investigate while we were there including organising the planting of a wind break down one boundary with a new fence to stop any animals eating it, take some soil samples to see just what our soil was like and to have Hubby's dad (a retired architect) have a look at the land as he is helping us with our house design.
Mum and Hubby (tape measure in hand) surveying the land.
On a clear day you can see Mt Ruapehu in the distance to the right of the pine trees.
As you can see there is not a thing in the land other than grass.  Not a single tree.  This has it's advantages and disadvantages.
The land had previously been used for sheep farming and some cropping.  A few parcels of land (1 x 4.5 acre, 1 x 5.5 acre ours, 2 x 10 acre and 1 x 8 acre) have been subdivided off and all but one are sold and 2 already have homes on them.  Ours is the last block of land at the end of the road with only one neighbour so should be quiet.
This is the view south looking over our land
While we were there I wandered the paddock taking note of what was growing there.  Along with the soil samples the type of plants that grow will give you a really good idea about not only the health of your soil but also the pH and moisture content.  There was quite a bit of buttercup growing which tells me that the soil has a high moisture content, there was at least 3 varieties of clover growing and heaps of it, there was quite a bit of plantain, at least 4 types of rye grass, some dock and a whole lot of other things I could not identify.
I will be looking at this whole process from a permaculture perspective so this is Observe and Interact stage of the cycle.  You can read more about it here on Liz's blog where she has written a great piece about it.
Being over here does make things a bit tricky in terms of regular observation but on the positive side we also have a long time in which to plan and consider all our options.
We will be planting the windbreak down this fence line which is our western boundry.
For the most part the whole 5 acres is flat so when we get around to building we are lucky that we can sort of plonk the house down where we want it.
I think I know how we are going to orientate the house (just have to work out if it should be true north or magnetic north???) but trying to work out the placement is slightly more difficult.  I do not want to be too close to the road nor too far.  I am trying to imagine how we will use the house and garden area into the future and what our requirements will be if we have more pets and /or kids.  I know that you can change things as you go through life but I want to have put some thought into it now at the designing stage.
The view East

I am a planner, investigator, organiser so I will be asking for your thoughts and feedback throughout this process.  I am open to all thoughts and suggestions and love getting diverse opinions of how things should be done.

So not that you have seen you have seen the blank canvas we have to work with what are your thoughts?
Have you built a house before?
What advice do you have in terms of planning for possibly having kids in the future?


  1. Hi Fiona - what a lovely project you have in front of you! Lucky things, you will have a great time. How I envy you being able to do this at this time of your life. Perfect.
    Now - I've never built a house, but if I was building one on that lovely block of land, I would be thinking insulation and good fire. Maybe a nice sunny sun room / conservatory would be great if there are kids involved, or even if not.
    I would plan now where the fruit trees were going, and where the animal sheds are in relation to house.... but you have heaps of experience in that already, so you will be fine! Enjoy your exciting project, it will be fun to com along for the ride. cheers Wendy

    1. Thanks for your thoughts Wendy. A fire place and a sunny dinning room are on the cards.

  2. Wow, what a great adventure and thanks for allowing us along for the ride. With a blank canvas you would think it would be easy, but im sure that this in itself give you a few headaches. I would think that i would be looking at your utilites location - water access, power, sewerage etc as often getting these to the house location can involve great expense. Following permaculture principles is a great start. Ive read so many post of farmers who have gone back to biodiversity and livestock rotation to improve soil etc. Fascinating and proving to be successful in a short period. Good Luck. It looks like a great local. Once you have accommodation set up, think seriously about applying to WOOFA to help with labour during the early years.

    1. Utilities are a biggie Lynda. We had also thought about WWOOFers to help out. Thanks Lynda

  3. Oh what an exciting adventure for you! It is marvelous that you have a blank canvas. I would be planting some fruit trees as soon as possible so that they can start growing :) I look forward to seeing the progress.

    1. AA I agree getting fruit trees in asap is a must.

  4. Your land looks amazing and location with mountain views, grass and flat land to start with and that will save you heaps on site work costs. A sun room/conservatory which is enclosed and warm would be great plus seeing the outdoors inside. Definately a fireplace if you have mountains close by that has snow on it. I agree that working out were veggie gardens fruit trees sheds etc first and then position house in relation to that. It is handy for the kids to have a play room/tv room so that the main area is somewhat clutter free and toys, mess etc more or less contained to one room. You will only truely understand that when your little kids come along. I love the kitchen/dining/family all one big open room with a view to the outside. It all looks very exciting. Also you could look at paying a consultant to give you some advice and plan with everything you want in mind and then you can do things in stages but there will be the space position in the future for those things. A big tree in the back yard to provide shade/ tree house etc would be great but I wouldn't plant it too close to the house in case it comes down in a storm. Enjoy the process how great and your location is way better than I had imagined. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

    1. Thanks Kathy. My boss at work also advised to have a separate area for the kids. We had not really planned on it but we will now add it to the list of things we might want to include.

  5. Nothing in terms of advice - just wanted to say how exciting I think it all looks. What a beautiful and GREEN piece of land. I'm sure you'll enjoy all the planning and dreaming.

  6. The possibilities are endless, enjoy! And thanks for the mention :)


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